’84 riot victims burn Nanavati panel report
New Delhi, August 9
Even if they wanted to, the ensuing circumstancely ensured that they relived the horror, day after day, year after year. Not surprisingly even two decades after what has been a long road in the search of justice, anti-Sikh riots victims feel let down.
As they jumped over barricades to barge into the police station on the Sansad Marg, their anger, their rejection of the Nanavati Commission’s report tabled yesterday in Parliament became all too evident.
They burnt a copy of the report and vowed to keep alive their struggle to get the culprits behind the massacre punished. Only this time, they promised to take their fight to the international level to “show the world how the Delhi Police, the Indian judiciary and the Indian democracy let us down”.
While the police played into the hands of politicians, not even a single suo motu notice was taken by the courts after the massacre, says All-India Sikh Conference (Babbar) president Gurcharan Singh Babbar.
Most of the women who were witnesses to their husbands and sons being burnt alive in the mayhem in the Capital, following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, are now old. Their daughters have managed to put together their lives after what has been a continuous fight for justice, at times under the most trying circumstances.
Men accompanying them are those who survived the mob frenzy when even the police tuned its back on them.
Raising slogans against the Congress, the Delhi police, Mr Sajjan Kumar, Mr H.K.L. Bhagat and Mr Jagdish Tytler, as they staged a dharna in the middle of the police station on the Sansad Marg, they called the Nanavati Commission’s report “nothing but a bundle of lies”.
“We do not want any more commissions, any more assurances of justice. We do not have any faith on the government or the judiciary. The Nanavati Commission’s report is nothing but a bundle of lies and the Action Taken Report (ATR) is equally useless. I have sufficient proof against Jagdish Tytler. I dare any law enforcement agency, the police, the CBI or the judiciary to approach me,”says Mr Babbar.
As men and women, some more than 70 years old, climbed over the police barricade to enter the police station, carrying placards saying, “Nanavati report Sikhon ka apman,” policemen showed remarkable restraint. In fact, an angry woman almost ended up “manhandling” a Sikh police official who was trying to placate the angry demonstrators. Shaking him by his turban, she cried out, “ How will you know when you or your family has not suffered?”
Most of the victims, whether it is Kuldeep Kaur who saw her husband, Bawa Singh, being burnt alive on the fateful day in Nangloi or the 40- plus Popri Kaur, who was just 21 when her husband was killed by an angry mob, the Nanavati Commission’s report has only re-opened their old wounds, they say
Beating her chest and crying out loud, Popri Kaur questioned, “ If they did not kill our men, who did? If the government managed to bring Satwant Singh and Beant Singh to justice, why are killers of my husband roaming scot-free?”
The Congress killed our men and saved their killers, she said, adding that her fight for justice would continue till the time she was alive.
Employed as a peon with a bank, Popri Kaur lost 21 family members, including her husband and 10 brothers-in-law.
Sitting next to her, Popri Kaur’s maternal aunt Sumati Bai lost her husband Mirchi Singh, son Hukam Singh, 25-year-old grandson Santokh Singh in the violence. “I did not get any compensation and after waiting for 21 years now, the government has dished up more lies,” she cried out.
Some like Rever Kaur are more reticient. “What had to happen, happened. I just wish it never happens to anyone else.”
As many as 2,733 persons were killed in Delhi in the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 and eight persons have been convicted so far by various lower courts in Delhi.
Five persons were sentenced to life imprisonment for burning a man alive. While the incident took place on November 1,1984, an FIR was lodged on July 2, 1996.